Bulli cafe dream crushed after multiple complaints by one resident

FRUSTRATED: Nigel Seberry quit his job and moved his family from Sydney after he spotted a For Lease sign at 40e Point St. Picture: Sylvia Liber

FRUSTRATED: Nigel Seberry quit his job and moved his family from Sydney after he spotted a For Lease sign at 40e Point St. Picture: Sylvia Liber

A Sydney chef who relocated to Bulli with dreams of creating a neighbourhood cafe/grocer has all but walked away from the venture, after his efforts were mired by planning hurdles and complaints from neighbours – one in particular.

Nigel Seberry estimates he has spent $30,000 on equipment, design work and fees. The sum does not include a $14,000 bond he hopes to recoup now the project appears to have gone belly-up.

The site in question is 40e Point Street. Though the building is zoned for residential use, it has housed businesses in the past. 

Mr Seberry who quit his job at Sydney Opera House to pursue the plans, says be was led to believe his application could succeed.

“We had a pre-lodgement meeting and they [council staff] gave us favourable feedback,” he said. 

“We went through all the proper channels. I’ve spent lots of time and effort and money with solicitors and architects, but I’m banging my head against a brick wall.” 

The application is for a cafe/grocer/delicatessen called Two Mountains Merchants. Mr Seberry has repeatedly amended plans – reducing seating, parking and the amount of cooking to be done on-site (in favour of pre-made gourmet take away meals) – in a bid to satisfy a resident who has repeatedly raised concerns about traffic and waste disposal. 

“Every time there’s a change, it goes back on display for 10 days, then the person who made the complaint gets to respond,” Mr Seberrry said.

“Pretty much one person gets to veto my idea.”

Mr Seberry’s would-be landlord held off charging him rent for six months but in March, after another business owner expressed interest in the site, Mr Seberry signed a lease. Council notified him the next day that his application had once again not succeeded. 

Mr Seberry says more than 200 people have signed a petition in support of his plan. But he has put his dream on the shelf for now, taking up work at a local cafe and leaving the dispute in the hands of his landlord, lawyers and council. 

A spokeswoman for council said amended plans were being assessed.

The story Resident’s complaints crush Bulli cafe dream first appeared on Illawarra Mercury.

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